Coronation Street characters will be seen dealing with life during the coronavirus pandemic in storylines when filming resumes, its producer has said.
But the crisis won’t “dominate every single story”, Iain MacLeod promised.
The ITV soap has suspended filming and is making plans to return when real-life restrictions start to be lifted.
MacLeod said he decided the virus “has to exist in our world”, but that the issue would be “handled with a light touch”.
He didn’t say whether any characters would catch the virus, but its impact will be seen through things like hand-washing protocols and food outlets switching to takeaways.
MacLeod said he and his team had “talked a lot” about whether to bring coronavirus to the cobbles, or whether Weatherfield “would exist in a parallel universe where everything proceeded in a pre-pandemic fashion”.
“The Coronation Street that we love is the one that reflects modern Britain, albeit in a more heightened way sometimes,” he said.
“And it just felt that if there were to be no coronavirus in Coronation Street, it would stop being a reflection of modern Britain and would instead be a parallel fantasy land. So we took the view that it has to exist in our world.
“However I am also aware that people also tune in to Coronation Street for escapism to some degree, and to see drama and stories that they’d never normally experience in their own lives, and stuff that they’d never normally see in their own living rooms played out on screen.
“So while the virus will exist in Coronation Street, we were also keen that it wouldn’t dominate every single story and every single scene.
“Coronavirus is pretty much the only topic of conversation in my house, but people wouldn’t want to tune in to Coronation Street and see every scene was people talking about coronavirus.
“It’ll be there, it’ll be handled with a light touch, but other than that our storytelling will be business as usual.”
Soaps have cut the number of episodes being broadcast in an attempt to avoid dropping off air.
MacLeod’s comments come a week after ITV’s director of television Kevin Lygo said the channel’s soaps were hoping to resume filming – but with some restrictions remaining.
“They are being inventive and creative about rejigging storylines,” he said. “I think we have got to accept there will be no more than two people talking in a room, and looking at ways of shooting where people don’t appear to be 6ft apart.”
Filming will not start up “until we are convinced it is safe”, he added.
“Some people who are in a dangerous zone, by age or health reasons, they won’t be there, I’m sure, for a time.
“I don’t want Ken Barlow [played by William Roache, 88] to get sick on my watch.”